We are thrilled to announce we are bringing back Wednesday Wins and even more excited to celebrate Jo-An B. as our first featured athlete in 2020! No one works harder than this amazing woman. She rises at an ungodly hour to find that one hour for herself — she’s a registered nurse who loves her career choice and a mom to three year old daughter Adaline. So between caring for family and others at work, time for her own self-care is at a premium.
“Growing up I wasn’t really into sports. I played some JV teams in high school but I was more of the typical nerdy Asian who was always studying for the next test. As the oldest child in the family to parents who emigrated to the US to have a better life for our family, the pressure was there to excel in my studies; therefore, physical activity was on the bottom of list of things to do. I started running after college just because it was something easy to take up. At one point, I got serious and joined a running group and finished my one (& only) half-marathon in my 20’s. But my typical exercise routine was pretty much- going to the gym, running, and working out on circuit machines. I’m pretty introverted- so I was happy doing things on my own.”
One of her co-workers was really fit & into CrossFit and it sparked an interest for her “A lot of times when I worked with her, she would mention how sore she was from her workout. One time, I remember thinking to myself, ‘It’s been a LONG time since I was sore from exercising… I miss that.’ I Googled CrossFit gyms in the area and saw a free intro class at the Cove and it was only 2.6 miles from where I live?!… **ding, ding** I thought ‘OK, let’s see what this is all about.’ I was SO intimidated by the class structure, the loud music, the yelling, and the number of people in the class. I did NOT like being in a class — where people can watch you — but got over that pretty quickly (since there was no other choice :)”
While it’s not always easy to rise before dawn, she’s one of our most loyal 5:30a athletes. I remember coming to my first 5:30a class and it was Coach Katie teaching. I remember her saying: ‘Hey. Good morning, Jo-An!’ and all I thought was ‘OMG… she knows my name!’ It felt so nice to have that personalization when I was new. Thanks Coach Katie! Of course, ALL the morning coaches are awesome as well!”
She not only takes class almost daily, but wraps each session with accessory work to further her fitness. “Becoming a mom was a bit of a rude awakening to me. It. Is. So. Hard. Coming to the 5:30a class is hard, but I cherish it because it’s MY sliver of time and mine alone. I’m not X’s mom or X’s wife… I’m Jo-An. The gains there are mine and I worked hard for them. I started staying after class to work on skills… like, all of them. There were SO many things I wanted to be able to do during the WODs but I just wasn’t strong enough. So I knew I had a lot of ‘catching up’ to do. There is still so much I want to be able to do, but in retrospect, I’ve been at the Cove a little over a year and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. From scaling the scales, to now being able to go ~5-10lbs over the FX reccs (on certain movements). This is the first time I’ve been able to quantify my progress and it’s so exciting & motivating to see it! Also, summers at the Cove with a super sweaty WOD means you burned some serious calories.”
While her gains have been extraordinary across the board, sometimes it’s just ONE thing that sticks with you and reminds you what you’re truly capable of. For her, it was doing her first handstand kick-up. “It was both a physical and MENTAL challenge for me. I was SO convinced my head would go straight into the ground & I was going to break my neck. But once I conquered that skill & got over the fear (I literally shouted out in joy), it became the gateway to many more PR’s & accomplishments for me at the Cove. I love our 5:30a crew and love to see them make their own personal progress with PR’s too!”
She’s learned so much about herself in her last year here. “There are so many things, but I’ve learned with self-discipline & consistency, I can achieve results. I’ve also learned body-awareness/perception. That is, knowing what are my limits are and when I can push myself just a little more.”. But it’s not just inside the gym where she’s seeing change. “CrossFit skills have spilled over to my mom-life — hip-hinging to pick up my 3-year old safely, deadlifting a box of groceries from Costco, engaging my core to move patients at work, etc. Now, if I could just string some double-unders….argh!”
We asked her what advice she’d give to a newbie at the Cove. “Keep coming! Even if you think the WOD is impossible or scary. You can scale down the scales or just adjust the numbers! It IS possible! Once you get the flow of things, it’s fun and exciting to see your progress!”
Yep, she’s got the flow and is the progress is blinding. Throw a fist pump her way when you see her. She’s put in the work and earned every bit of her success!
21-15-9 reps of-
Bar MU (reps divided by 3)
DU (reps x 3)
Time Cap: 14 min
Fx: J-Hook Row (keep reps at 21-15-9), 135/95, SU (reps x 6)
15 Glute Ham Bridges
12 GHD Situps
Scale: 24 Regular Situps
Coach Alea’s Tips: For the Metcon, make sure to be patient on the muscle up pull to avoid the chicken wing. Focus on keeping your glutes engaged during the deadlifts. Pick a weight that you don’t have to break up more than 3 times per set. During the accessory work give the GHDs a try! Even if you don’t do all the reps, at least try a few.
Jo-An sneaking some time (and some space) for accessory work after class, per usual…
Today we highlight the one of the most amazing athletes and genuinely wonderful people we know — Stef M.She’s a data analyst by day and Super Woman by night.She comes regularly, works hard, listens to the coaches and is so darn humble. Coach Josh agrees “she a great community person and always having fun — always smiling.
She’s been at the Cove for two years and the the results of her approach are beyond extraordinary.She comes consistently 4-5 days a week (Saturdays are out because “I need to sleep in at least one day”. It’s really just been about consistency for me. I just want to keep getting better.I play sports outside of here.I play football and soccer.And for me it’s really helped.”
“Before I came here I was doing the same old stuff at the gym.Lifting, running. But I was like ‘I want more than this’.There wasn’t a lot of improvement happening. Then I joined here and I’ve seen more improvements that I ever have in my life.In two years, I’m better, stronger and faster.And I’ve been active my whole life.It’s been amazing.”
Yes, her time at the Cove has helped her endeavors outside the gym, but what happens inside the walls of Cove are nothing short of remarkable.She’s become the rabbit (sorry ladies, but she’s Coach Katie’s favorite rabbit to chase). And even when we tell her this, she almost doesn’t believe it.“I’m still the one chasing people. I love that environment.”
CrossFit and her sports are also her way of staying connected to people and provide her community of support.“I’ve always been competitive.With sports I play with a lot of people I went to college with; it’s how we keep in touch.And at the Cove, It really helps to have a score and an environment where I can thrive.”She got bestie Joey F. to join the Cove. “I pulled Joey in almost a year later.He looks miserable, but inside he loves it.I’m like, ‘you’ve got to push’. I push him hard.”As Coach John said, “Her presence pushed everybody to do better, especially Joey….poor Joey.”
“I’ve always played sports.I love the team thing.And when I’m here in my head I’m competing with myself and everyone else in class.I just love the community.You’re not alone. You’re dying together and we secretly love it.And I totally appreciate that.”
And although you’ll see amazing benchmarks set by her each evening, she still finds motivation from those around her.Even the ones she’s doesn’t really know.“The 5:30am women I see on Wodify are amazing. Every day I see their scores and think ‘oh my gosh, they’ve already been to class and crushed it’.They’re my virtual rabbits. I’ve spoken to some of them a handful of times, but they have no idea that I’m watching what they do.I’m so glad they are in the morning so I can see what they’ve done.”
Some of her biggest breakthroughs came at the Open this year.She got her first strict handstand push ups AND first bar muscle ups.The handstand push-ups came first in 19.3. “That was crazy. I didn’t know where that came from.I did singles, but had no idea I’d get through six. I can’t even tell you the last time I even tried to do one.I didn’t know I was strong enough. Sometimes I just need that extra nudge.But I tried it and it worked.”
Next came her first bar-muscle ups in 19.4. “I was so excited.I got up there and was like, ‘whoa, where did that come from?’.So I went back up and tried again. I got three.I think the first thing I said when I got down was ‘that was weird! It’s such a different view from up there!’”
She credits adrenaline as well, but we think she’d do just as well in a quiet Open Gym.It’s a simple but powerful formula she has nailed.When we asked how she’d sum it up for someone new or trying to get to get better she said “ Just show up.Trust the programming.You’ll see the changes.But showing up is the biggest thing. It’s about consistency.”
She’s caught the competition bug too.She’s done three competitions and is signed up for “Flex on the Mall” this Spring.Her friends and family are fully supportive of her efforts even though “they still can’t believe I do this all the time.”She had a huge crew at the Battle of Baltimore — almost like her personal paparazzi crew.“They come to support me fully.They might make fun of me for doing it before hand, but they always are there to support me.
She’s also taking her passion for fitness to another level outside the gym.“I’m taking my Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification class now.I just started it.I took my Personal training certificate last August.” While it’s a passion project for now, we can’t wait to see where she goes with it.
Shorter term, what’s next on her list?“Ring muscle ups.The rings just seem so different from the bar.It’s gonna be a while but I’d like to get one.” We’re guessing she has it in her.Just like all her other victories, she just has to try it.
Until you can no longer fit in the work in a minute anymore
EMOM until failure:
Time cap: 20 minutes
“Full Speed Ahead”
__ Cal row
30 Alt. DB Snatch
30 Box Jumpovers
Time Cap: 10 min
Fx: 18/14 cal, 18/12″, 35/25 DB
P/O: 25/20 cal, 24/20″, 50/35 DB
Coach’s Tip: Find a pace of the first metcon that you keep up with for at least 5 rounds. The second metcon is a sprint. No real pacing but make sure your legs are good to go when jumping up on the first Box Jumpover.
A ‘vintage’ shot of Stef from two years ago. Yup, always smiling!
Today we highlight one of our favorite athletes — the amazing and inspiring Kathy L.She turns 70 this fall, but her energy, enthusiasm and ability rival that of people half her age (or even a quarter of her age!).She’s proven that age is just a number and her approach to fitness is something people of any life-stage should strive for!
“In my past I’ve had poor luck with physical fitness. I kept hurting myself trying to do it on my own.I have a shelf full of fitness books that failed me.Then I pried open my wallet and hired a trainer one day.I really enjoyed working with a personal trainer, but it got really expensive working out twice a week.I’m kind of a cheapskate and hated spending all that money.”
I joined my county gym and I was looking for a class setting with guidance so I wouldn’t hurt myself.I thought I’d get the benefits to help keep me improving but also keep me safe — and I could save a little money too.But the classes were hard to get in to. They’re crowded and you need to sign up.And sometimes I couldn’t even get in because I got shut out and I didn’t get the personal attention I needed.”So that’s when she decided to give the Cove a try.
She’s been at the Cove just over a year and a half and continues to just get faster, stronger and more agile. She credits the coaches, the environment and her fellow athletes for her successes here.“One of the first sessions I couldn’t do a single burpee, box jump or jump rope. The coaches are all so awesome. Everyone is so patient. I am learning something new every day and I keep seeing improvements.”
Oh, and she’s been injury-free.“No aches and pains.Not a one. The only ‘injury’ I’ve had is sciatica from my desk job!I honestly feel it’s because of the guidance of the coaches.I know I’m responsible for myself as well, so I’m really careful.There’s personal responsibility there, but they are amazing.”She also loves the fact that we properly prepare her for the workouts.“I really love the warm ups.It’s something I’ve never had the discipline to do on my own. Some are really grueling for me.But it’s part of the reason why I think I haven’t been injured.”
Besides staying injury-free, her biggest overall goal is just to see continued improvement. “I think for me it’s notable that I can actually expect to continue to improve at my age.Even starting this so late, I think I can continue to see improvements for at least the next 10 years until I’m 80.”
She also has specific and measurable goals, and she’s ticking them off quickly.“One of the goals I put on the goal wall was to be able to do a box jump.And I just did my first 12” jump today.Maybe I’ll try to put a plate on it soon to make it higher, but for now I’m just happy I can do it”.She also has a goal of doing a full push up.“I haven’t done one since I was in my 20’s.Holden has really been working with me on it.I can do a plank for a full minute now so I know it’s not my core strength, it’s my upper body that needs to get stronger.I’m confident I’ll get here. I do a tiny bit every day”.
“Everyone is so wonderful and friendly. And like I said, the coaches are just all awesome. And I’m inspired by everything these amazing athletes do. It’s so thrilling to see the young fellas lift so much weight the bar is gong to break.And these women — they do a chin up and then keep going.Those (muscle ups) are amazing.I love watching it all. I know I can’t compete with those great athletes, so mentally I strive for 2/3rds of the RX.I scale myself to finish in the middle of the pack and I get a FANTASTIC workout.”
And she’s seeing and feeling the results outside the gym too.She just came back from a skiing trip to Utah where she claims much more stamina and strength on the mountain than she’s felt in a long time.“I hike more.I do the things I love like golf and enjoy generally staying active.”
As we age, things like protecting bone density and performing simple movements like getting up and down off the floor are really important.Strength and power output are key elements to living a long and productive life and she’s increasing hers daily.“My friends are really struggling — with degenerative diseases and age related things.I’m kind of an outlier now. “ Actually, we’d prefer to say she’s exceptional.
So exceptional that all of the things she could do when she came in, she can now. “I can’t believe I can jump on a 12” box.I can’t believe I can jump rope 40 or 50 times unbroken.In our first classes I couldn’t do a single one.I can even do burpees now.I was away and saw Brian’s note about “out of town workouts”.And there was one that said “100 burpees for time”. I didn’t do 100 — I did 70 — and it took me a long time, but I did them.
And best of all, she’s so intelligent about all of it.She doesn’t over-reach, but she also doesn’t go soft.She comes out sweaty, more fit… and safe too.We think it’s the ultimate win-win relationship. She is inspired by the athletes around her and they are inspired by what she is doing.When you see her, please give her a huge high five and tell her job well done!
AMRAP in 7 min:
8/7 Calorie Bike
*Rest 1 minute
AMRAP in 7 min:
8/7 Calorie Bike
*Rest 1 minute
AMRAP in 7 min:
8/7 Calorie Bike
*Each round you pick it back up from where you ended from in the last AMRAP
-Modify Burpees: Up-downs or incline / box burpees
-Mod cals if necessary
-Sub 25 light & fast russian KB swings
4 rounds straight – Handstand/Inverted Hold
4 rounds straight – Jumping Air Squats
4 rounds straight – Purpees (Pushup first + Burpee)
-Can opt for legs up the wall if it’s comfortable being on your back – if not going upside down, L-sit DB hold (holding DBs in OH position)
-Omit jump in Air Squats
-Sub wall, box or knee push ups
Coach’s Tip: Bodyweight bananza today for the Cove. If you are working on DUs, today would be a good dy to stick with them.
Today we highlight one of the greatest and friendliest faces at the Cove, Wes K.Since joining the Cove he has lost over 40 pounds and his body fat percentage has dropped from 30% to 19% in his most recent InBody Scan. We really don’t need the numbers though, the progress is obvious and inspiring. Sometimes losing weight actually means gaining so much more.
You may know Wes from being awarded “Best Male Transformation” at the most recent Cove Anniversary Party, but what this award didn’t showcase was all the effort that went into it.Wes’s story isn’t about a quick fix, but rather was a steady climb over 10 months of intelligent training coupled with a new understanding of nutrition.
Wes came to us looking to lose weight and reclaim his body. As a younger man he was a swimmer and tirelessly spent hours in the pool. He loved it growing up but the grind of constant practices took its toll for his passion for the sport. Fitness became a chore that involved a pair of headphones, a bench press, some curls, and a desire to sweat as little as possible. Living a young mans lifestyle of drinking and it poorly led to him slowly gaining pounds year after year.Again, it wasn’t an instant transformation.It was a slow burn.
Wes realized what he was doing was not serving him and he needed to make a change. CrossFit came onto his radar as he saw the changes it made in people around him, but he was intimidated. Wes found the Cove online and it seemed “friendly and something I could do”. He saw that we offered FREE CrossFit 101 classes but he was afraid even to walk in the door.
“I am naturally a shy person and with all those movements and people being involved it seemed a bit overwhelming. If I ended paying a little money for the sessions I knew I would attend. It helped me follow through. I went through those three classes and it really helped me understand the movements and gave me confidence that I could do this.”
But now he actually had to take it to his first class. “Brian told me to take the Friday class so I did what I was told. I was super nervous for the class experience and he forgot to mention that it’s a partner workout. Not only that but it had like 300 wall balls and a whole bunch of other stuff. I was really feeling for my partner but he was awesome and so supportive.I survived that day.”
And from that first official workout of wall balls thus started Wes’s consistent attendance to CrossFit classes. “Coach John and Coach Brian kept introducing me to people and I started to make connections.” Those connection led to him to not just enjoying classes, but learning he was not alone in his journey.
After finding consistency in attendance he then moved on to the next target in his fitness journey, his nutrition.One step at a time was his simple, yet smart, approach.“I had the get the workouts down before I moved on to nutrition. I ended up buying portioned meals through Territory foods and that made things simple for me.The great thing that happened with changing my diet was that I was recovering better from workouts. I was starting to make classes 4 days a week and I realized that I really wanted to come to classes. I liked being there. I was eating so I could spend time doing something I really enjoyed.”
This is where Wes really started to realize the next benefit of his fitness transformation. Improving his physical body was also transforming his outlook on life and his relationship with people. “Lots of my friends were getting married and having kids and they just weren’t around to hang out anymore. I never realized it but I was isolating myself from others and the Cove brought me out of my shell (pun intended). I hadn’t really thought about it at the time, but depression runs in my family but I know that this place takes care of that for me. I am just happy here.”
And despite his initial hesitancy around crowds and his nervousness about that first Friday class, it has become something he really looks forward to. “ Partner workouts are my favorite night. It’s a day I feel like I can slack the most. I might be as popular a partner anymore after this article. I just love Marcus, Sara, Paul, John, and everyone at the Cove. Things have change so much for me over the past 10 months.”
We couldn’t be more proud of Wes and his amazing accomplishments.Give him a fist bump or high five when you see him and tell him to keep up the great work!
Establish 1 Rep Power Clean
Time Cap: 14 minutes
If belly impedes bar path: opt for DB cleans – can go from hang.
Alternate 1 minute assault bike
+ 6 hanging DB power cleans for 14 minutes
“Lucky number 7”
AMRAP in 7 min:
7 Power Clean
7 Burpees over the Bar
– rest 1 minute –
AMRAP in 7 min:
7 Power Clean
Fx: 115/75 part 1, 95/65 part 2
P: 155/105 part 1, 115/75 part 2
O: 185/125 part 1, 135/95 part 2
Sub DB hang power cleans
Sub elevated (box) burpees OR up-down + air squat
Coach’s Tip: Let’s get the HEAVY weights rolling. As always, form over weight but better form leads to bigger weight! Weight for the metcon should be something done in 1-2 reps or very quick singles.
Today we celebrate the successes of the amazing Courtney K. She’s one of the kindest souls we know and after hearing her story, you’ll agree that she’s also one of the bravest and most inspiring.
“My life has been a real roller coaster. I came from an upbringing where my family life was always great, but I was always the rebel. I didn’t play the rebel role to be rebellious per se; I just loved it. I loved the whole scene. I dressed so “Goth”. I listened to heavy metal, shaved my head and wore leather pants and Doc Martins. Preppy cheerleader just wasn’t my thing.”
Her Dad was a huge influence on everything she did. “He was a real big hippie. He was a Purple Heart in Vietnam. He was awesome. He’s the reason I am who I Am.”. While she expressed her identity through clothes and lifestyle in her younger years, she REALLY had to rethink EVERYTHING in her 20s.
“I grew up in Florida. My Dad was the guy to go to in Broward County if you needed help. He ran several halfway houses. He stood up for the guys who needed help and then stood by them as they got it. “ He changed lives, helped get people sober and on their feet again — and the family got to be a part of all the amazing change he created. “Through all of this he still made time for us. It was never a burden.” That is, until it went very wrong.
“My dad passed away when I was 23. It was just tragic. He was clean and sober 17 years and had helped so many people. It ended up that one of the people he was actually trying help killed him.” A man who gave so much of himself to change lives was stricken of his own.
“I had a really hard time after my dad died. I started doing bad things. I drank and did drugs. I tried to hide it from everyone. I felt horrible because I was his daughter and I was now in that position (of the people he tried to help)”. I didn’t want special treatment or attention because I was “Richard’s daughter”.
She knew she had to make changes. “I moved out of the area, but didn’t go too far – From Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa. I wasn’t particularly religious. But I tried to find God again.”
It was there she met her now husband. “He was back from his second tour in Iraq. It turns out he lived just a few blocks from me and we moved there the same month. I remember he was totally unique. We danced to Sinatra the first night in his apartment.” They’ve been together ever since.
“His family lives here (Maryland) so basically a work contract and family brought him here. We spent the next two years getting to know each other. We didn’t get serious until I had visited him a few times. I knew I wanted out of Florida and wanted something new. I just wanted to keep moving forward. I eventually moved here and after eight months he got a deployment for six months on a civilian contract. He was gone for almost a year shortly after I moved here. It was ok, though. I was always independent.”
“We didn’t talk much about his religion until he was deployed. When he was gone, I really knew I wanted to make my way back to finding faith. I see people so happy when they have God in their lives. When I told him that, he began to share a lot about his background. So, I actually discovered Islam while I was by myself when he was away. It broadened my horizons and perspectives – and I converted. I didn’t even tell him until after it was done. “
“I actually met his family for the first time while he was overseas and got to know them as a friend of their son. I knocked on the door and they welcomed me in. Every Friday I was invited over. His dad even invited me to a religious retreat. I dove in and tried all ways to express different types of religion. I like to soak it all in and then decide what’s right for me. I mean, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? I get more educated? I mean, I had never met a Muslim before! I didn’t even know what Islam was when I was in Florida.”
“They were just amazing. There was always a big group and they were always there to help other people. Ultimately we knew eventually we would be together married, but didn’t know we were going to find ourselves within the process. One day I told his mom ‘I’m in love with your son and I think I want to marry him.’ And I got her blessing.”
“I love the religion and think there are so many misconceptions. Muslim men truly love their wives. Yes, the man makes a lot of decisions, but the woman holds it all together and the husbands are so appreciative. It hurts when people say we cover our hair because our husbands tell us to. It’s a commitment to god, nothing else. It makes me feel almost born again — it makes me feel really good!”
With a new relationship with God, she then focused on a new and healthy lifestyle. “I never played sports. I never exercised. Okay, maybe I did ONCE. I twirled a baton in a parade when I was kid. But that’s it. I’ve been in gyms before, but was so turned off by the sales process and the trainers and I could never make it stick. I didn’t know what to do with the machines. It was awful.”
“Two years ago we decided to try for a baby. I wanted to prepare myself for running around with a child. It’s then that I found CrossFit. It just changed my life and perspective on fitness. It keeps me eating healthy and on track. I don’t want to ruin the momentum I’ve created and that makes me want to keep everything in my life healthy. When he first came home I was working as a medical surgical tech for plastics (plastic surgery) and life was crazy. He then started a job that required odd hours so I’m basically a homemaker now. It’s great because he’ll come home and I’ll have healthy meals prepped and dinner ready.”
“It’s so funny. I always tell my husband I’d be a good soldier. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. That’s what I love about CrossFit. It’s organized. I’m told what to do. Go! And it’s all balls to the wall. Scale if you need to. Rest if you need to. That keeps the longevity for me.”
“And I love the small successes along the way. Even changing colors on the kettle bells lets me really feel like I’ve come so far. I used to have a problem with finishing things. It took me a long time to finish high school. But I’d work my butt off to get there. And I love the fact that I am making things happen. Things are not getting in my way anymore. I’m fearless now. I used to give myself a hard time all the time… about everything. But this keeps me grounded and on track.”
Sure, there are times she does fall off track (like most of us). “I sometimes consider myself a binge eater. I’m really good most of the week and then I have a cheat day. But it’s often a BAD cheat day. Like a cheeseburger and a big slice pie. Or a whole pie!”.
But those cheats are happening less and less and her attendance at the Cove is becoming more and more. She’s happy. She’s confident. She’s down 25 pounds. She strives for all organic. She’s got energy levels most of us dream of. She’s setting a great example for all of us.
“It’s a life-changer for me mentally and physically. I’m clear. My head is clear. The Cove has opened my mind too. The people here are really great and I love that there are people from all walks of life. The coaches we have are so great and I love it so much.”
You’ve opened our minds too. You make this a better place. And we love you too. More than you’ll ever know.
Every 90 Seconds for 15 minutes:
1 Snatch Lift Off w/ a pause (pull bar to the knee and pause) + 1 Snatch + 1 Hang Snatch
*Power or Squat
1 minute assault bike (rest 30 seconds)
14 DB side step ups
4 Rounds for Time:
15 Power Snatch
*12 min time cap
Sub DB snatch
Box / Modified burpees
Coach’s Tip: Skill work with the Snatch right into a fast metcon utilizing that skill work. Try to keep the intensity up during the metcon without hitting a “redline”. Great form with the Snatches is going to help your time.
Today we celebrate one of the Cove’s favorite couples, RoCarla and Warren T.! Both have made such incredible gains in strength, speed and stamina that the coaches AND their fellow athletes alike, are in awe.
Unlike most other couples here at the Cove, it is not their ‘date night’ place. “We actually never work out together, Warren says. “And we certainly don’t do partner WODs. I don’t want my wife to see me struggling!”. But despite the fact they are on different schedules, CrossFit and the Cove have become big topics of discussion at home. “ Even though we never take classes together, we talk about it ALL the time. We’ll go over the workout the night before or when I’m ready to come in later that day, he tells me what to expect.”
These two big personalities have a chemistry that is palpable, but he gives her all the credit. “RoCarla is the star of any show. Everything that is good in my life she has either lead me too, pushed me too, inspired me to become, or gave to me.”
They met with they were fresh out of the military (her Army, him Navy). Despite the inherent rivalry, they worked together and met during their employment orientation. “I wanted to ask her out as soon as I saw her. I scoped out the times she got up, where she got her coffee and when she went to dinner. I always say ‘fortune favors the bold’. I got her in the elevator and asked if she wanted to have a drink with me. Not sure if it was because she was stuck in an elevator with me, but she said yes. And even after she kept me waiting for a long time at that bar, I was just happy she showed up.” They had their first ‘real date’ in DC (at the Lincoln Memorial). Despite his attempts to impress her from the onset, she was playing hard to get. “ He was such a goofball.” “I even ducked his first kiss.” But this was the beginning of their amazing – and funny – and forever — story.
She was living with her parents trying to buy a house. “I told my mom about the date. I told her I met a great guy, he lives in Virginia. He’s nice. He’s respectful. He likes his mom. He has ambition. He’s got a good job. So why hasn’t he called me yet?!” How does he not call me?!”. But he did. And every day after that they talked for hours. It resulted in him moving up here (after some not-so-subtle nudging) and starting a new life together. Sorta.
“Ro was recalled after she left the Army (she was still in active reserve) right as I was planning to move up here. Just as I was working on moving and all the job logistics she got the notice for 404 days. I had to put the ring on her. I made a plan. I planned to go back to the Lincoln memorial to propose. But weather was not in our favor that day but as I said, fortune favors the bold! I decided to it right then. Just as she was about to attack a colony”. (yes, she was playing a video game).
She served, he settled into his new home and life began together (albeit 404 days after they expected). They got married, had two beautiful daughters and on paper everything was great. But it wasn’t. “After the babies, I suffered from post partum depression. I didn’t even know I had it. After Warren and the kids went to bed I’d get out of bed and binge eat and watch trash TV. I’d get two warmed cookies and a Machhioto from Starbucks every day and think it was okay. I was eating 2,000 calories a day just at Starbucks! And I was teaching those kids my bad habits. It took a long time to realize it was actually post-partum depression. I was angry and sad and didn’t know why. Sometimes you blame or think it’s your spouse or something is wrong with the relationship, but he was wonderful the whole time. In fact, he was the one who told me I was depressed. I couldn’t even see it myself. “
“I was like “I have to get better”. I took more time for myself. Started going to church. I gained a lot of weight and it wasn’t coming off. I remember had to go to Warren’s work Christmas party. I must’ve but on six outfits and none looked good on me. Everything needed to change.” Getting her mind right was the priority, but they knew healthy bodies would help with a healthy mind. Warren grew up as a chunky kid and knew the impact that it has on the body AND mind.
Warren: “I hit 200 pounds when I was TEN years old. I wrestled heavy weight as a kid; I was heavy, but I could move. But when I hit my teenage years everyone else got taller and stronger and I didn’t. In 8th grade I started lifting with the high school football team and started learning about weights. That’s where I got hooked on the barbell. I was stronger than I thought I was and started dropping weight in 9th grade. I learned what a calorie was in 10th grade and I was still 200 at 17, but it was a very different 200. I went to the Navy, and lived most of my young adult life fit. But then we got married, had a family and I started getting bored. I still did some running and light lifting, but the weight room felt like a stranger.
RoCarla came to the Cove through the Fresh Start Challenge. It was the exact change she was looking for. She is a natural athlete and was always super fit playing basketball in high school and receiving the highest PT score when in the Army. She could do more push ups, sit ups and could run faster than than all the guys – but lost that part of her. She wanted it back. And so did he.
Since starting at the Cove, RoCarla is down over 30 pounds and is back to her strong and confident self. She’s in a great headspace and has seemingly found the balance she was missing. And the same is true for Warren. “I can walk into the gym and not feel like a stranger. I always thought of the gym as ‘my house’. I finally feel at home again. The atmosphere is so conducive to getting work done. I’m not one of the guys that can blow my own sail; I need external stimulus. I learned I lifted weights wrong a lot of years. The coaches teach me the right way to do it and correct my form and now I’m hitting 485 on a deadlift.”
Warren said, “I found the Cove to be an environment that provides me with all the tools I need to reach my full physical potential. Football let me know how strong I can be. The Navy taught me that I am only limited by how hard I want to work. The Cove is the place I can put all that together.”
It’s a family experience too. She says “The kids get excited for us to work out.” In addition to telling their parents to “send it” regularly, “They tell us ‘you need to eat more protein mommy. They love it here. The first thing they do when they get here is grab a PVC pipe!”.
They’re fit. They’re having fun. Oh, and they LOOK great too. Ro chimes in “I feel great. I’m wearing jeans that are two sizes smaller now. And Warren keeps saying “you look GOOD in those jeans! We just love seeing the changes in each other’s physiques. It’s amazing.”
As he so beautifully states, “The Cove is the place where we share in an experience, and the Cove has made us a happier couple. We love the time we can spend at the Cove just being ourselves and not the roles we serve.”
“We want to convey our heart felt admiration and appreciation for the entire Cove community. We have never been surrounded by so many exceptional people in our entire lives. I can’t relate how it feels to have those same exceptional people talk with me and be kind to me. I always muse that if I had to colonize another planet I would start at the Cove.”
6 @ 70%
6 @ 70%
6 @ 75%
6 @ 75%-80%
6 @ 80%-85%
Modify percentages as needed – do not exceed 75% of previous 1 RM
Optional squat to box
1/1/1, 2/2/2, 3/3/3…10/10/10 reps of
Hang Power Cleans
Front Rack Lunges (ea leg)
*15 min time cap
Sub DB hang cleans for barbell cleans
Optional unweighted lunges or DB lunges (hold at either side versus front rack)
Sub slam balls for T2B
Coach’s Tip: Same Front Squat sequence as last week, working on some volume and consistency with squatting. The metcon works as follows- do 1 HPC, 1 Front Rack Lunge (L), 1 Front Rack Lunge (R), 1 T2B. Then on to 2 of each, 3 of each, etc. Lots of transitions so pick a weight you can hang on to from the HPCs to the Lunges.
The only class they’ve attended together is a KID’S CLASS!
Today we celebrate one of the best guys out there, Paul K. (or Benjamin Button as we like to call him). He seems to be reverse aging – that is, looking younger and fitter as time goes on – and just getting better at everything as he ages.
For Paul, fitness isn’t just a way to keep his body young and healthy, it’s to keep him young at heart. It has been an important part of his life since he can remember, and it pays off in ways most of us don’t even think about.
He works at a large media company; chock full of young go-getters that pretty much requires him to stay one step ahead. “Ageism is a real thing.” But his strategy is simple: “Look young, act young, dress young and talk young. The minute they think you’re an ‘old guy’ it’s over. I think the most senior people at the company think I’m 40.”
But at 51, he’s winning that game big time. “I look at some people my age and I’m like ‘Get to the store. Get to the gym. Get your shit together. I want to work for a long time so all of this matters.”
Sure, it helps in his professional life, but fitness has been a huge part of his personal life since he can remember. “I played all the sports in high school. Among other things I played basketball and football, but my best sport was tennis (which he still plays competitively today). When I got to college I wasn’t doing much and went to go try wrestling with a friend of mine. We walked in the gym and there were 200 women taking aerobics classes. We joked to each other, let’s hop in and do this. We might meet someone! Six months later I was teaching the class.”
“I ended up teaching four classes a week to over 200 women for four years. I’d roll into the bars and it was like Shaq walked in. ‘It’s the guy from aerobics!’ they’d shout. In a school with 50,000 people I met so many of them through health and fitness. My degree was in teaching but it was just a degree to me; health and fitness was what I loved.I basically went to school for everything but the academics. But I learned about life and to meet people… how to deal with people.”
After college I started my own business called ‘Fitness Express.’ It was basically a personal training based company and I had a studio the basement of a friend’s agency. I got certifications, taught all kinds of classes from step to those glider classes where you’d slide on a mat with booties. I did it all. I taught until I was 26 or 27 and had 4% body fat, but was broke.”
“I thought to myself, if I could find something that I was as passionate about as I was about fitness I’d probably be okay. Then in the early 90’s a good friend of mine called and said they were launching something new at the Cincinnati Inquirer and he’d bring me on. It was a digital platform called Cars.com and needed help launching it. On Friday I was a personal trainer. On Monday I was an online expert because that’s what my business card said. Fifteen months later I was a manager and the business was growing exponentially.”
“At that point in my life I started running to stay in shape. I ran 6 marathons. At one point I was trying to qualify for Boston and hit a PR in Chicago at 3:46 in 1999. “But instead he was focused on his career. I eventually went to Clear Channel radio working for a guy named Bill Reinberger (who is now a VP for the Cincinnati Reds). Not only was he great to work for then, he got me to sing the national anthem at a game.”
So we have to ask ourselves, is there anything this guy can’t do? Well, double-unders used to be on that list. But no more. Keeping up with the younger guys a the gym? Nope. He’s doing that too.
“Most of the people who come to the Cove… heck, my kids are their age! When I was 26… geez… if I had found it then, maybe I’d be Steve Michelotti.” For a guy who’s dabbled in almost every fitness regimen out there, why CrossFit? Why the Cove?
“It feels really good on my body. And I love ‘appointment fitness’. It’s an hour of my day that I look forward to. To me, it’s almost always about the people I’m with. It’s the notion that misery loves company. I love the fist bump at the end of the workout. You know, like we’re all in this together. We can talk about it before hand to strategize and commiserate after. Jessica, Irina, Eyal, Dan, Keith, and Aaron… they’re all awesome. In the evenings. Rob Novak is one of my favorite people of all time. He’s in his 40s and I love to watch him. Marcus too. The camaraderie of this place and the people. That’s what it’s all about”.
“People outside of here think I’m crazy, but it’s my release. I’m in a crazy business with crazy expectations. I walk in here and it all goes away. It’s all about what I’m getting done and the people I’m with. I say the same thing to my team in business meetings that I say to myself here at the gym: “Just get incrementally better each day”.
In the last two years, these ‘increments’ have been more like giant leaps. He’s gotten so much stronger. Faster. Leaner. And now he is mastering skills most of us couldn’t do at 20, no less at 51. But he’s in it for the long game. “My aunt always said to me ‘Paul, if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. My mother cannot get off the couch because she’s aging and afraid she’ll fall and won’t be able to get up. My dad died prematurely at 78 because of a heart attack. That is not going to be me.”
And it’s a lesson he’s passing on to the next generation. “My kid and I are really close. They see Gina (his wife) and I work out and they know health and fitness is REALLY important. I know they will take this seriously and they already do. Paige ran a half marathon (and does CrossFit at the Cove when she’s home!). Mia cheers – and it’s not like the cheer when I was young — it’s such an athletic thing these days, it’s insane.”
While he plays the young guy role well, he does see signs that he’s getting older. “I have more time on my hands now than when my kids were younger. I used to run around from work to practice and school events and all the things I see people doing now with younger kids. I remember those days well. But now they’re older and no one’s worried about when I get home. It’s great on some levels, but it’s sad because I see time slipping away.”
Yes, Paul… time continues to tick for all of us, but you are out-running the clock big-time. Every single one of us can learn from your ability to stay young in body, mind AND spirit. Walt Disney once said that “growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional”. We think you’d be perfectly cast as the star in that film.
5 x 3 @ 85%+ across
*Between each set 7 Bent Over T’s and 7 empty barbell rows (underhand grip)
2 Rounds for Time:
600 M Run
15 Handstand Push ups
30 KB Swings
*16 min time cap
15 seats strict press (can sit on box)
Russian KB swings
Coach’s Tip: Pick a weight that is 85% or higher and hit that weight for 5 sets for the Push Press. For the metcon, pick a KB weight that you can do in no more than 2 sets.
Look who met a girl and got married!!!! Congrats Joe T.!!
Today we celebrate Keith H., an overall great guy and amazing athlete. Keith came to us just over a year ago and with a simple formula of consistency and hard work, he’s done amazing things.
Keith walked in the doors as what most would describe as a ‘fit guy’. He plays on a basketball league, chases after four kids and is up for pretty much any physical challenge. But he’s living proof that there’s always room for growth. Room to get stronger. Faster. Better. And he’s done just that.
His drive to do better started at a very early age. “I’m one of 7 kids. I had six brothers and one sister. It was always a competition at the house. Luckily, each of us had our own strengths and each of us found we were better at one thing. We each found our own path. My younger brother could run for days. Another could wrestle. I was the agility guy and was pretty quick. Basketball became my thing.”
“Even when we get together now, it’s about who can best whom. We can be sitting around the table and someone will say‘I bet I can stand over there and catch a grape in my mouth if you throw it to me.’ We totally egg each other on. We don’t know how to stop and we keep going until we find ourselves in the pool trying to catch a grape from across the pool while jumping in the water.”
Being competitive can be a slippery slope, but Keith always finds a way to look at the motivating and lighter sides of it. He enjoys one-upping people (mostly himself) by doing the kinds of things that keep a forty year-old young. “When I was a kid I saw a guy spinning a basketball on his finger for an hour. I was like ‘I can do that’, so I tried it. And I did it. Plus six minutes. Just for fun.” He also does other things most of us wouldn’t think of. Like dropping a phone on a ball… yep, for “fun”.
“I love stupid human tricks. I can balance anything on my chin”, he said. For journalistic integrity, we demanded he prove it. Here’s a shot of him balancing a barbell on his chin. Oh, and PLEASE do not try this at home. Or at the gym!
His competitive spirit is what also helps him find success at the gym. “I love the WhiteBoard because it helps me to see where people are so I know what I can expect. I look at Dan P. a lot. He’s a beast. And I see people like Jubar who just kill it. Sometimes I’m like ‘dang… how’s he doing that?! I haven’t even met the guy and I’m motivated. They might not know it, but I’m looking where they are and it helps me.”
But he doesn’t get caught up in what others are doing – it’s purely for motivation. He knows he’s on his own path and embraces it. “I want to do bar muscle ups, but I don’t make comparisons like that to other people. Things like getting more mobile or opening my hips might come easy for other people but are big wins for me.”
“I look back and see where I started. A few months after I joined I did the Labor Day Abbate Hero WOD. It’s a year later and I did about the same time – but I upped the bar from 115 to 135.” The numbers tell a story but it’s more than that. “Yes, I see improvements. And I feel stronger.”
And his gains play out beautifully in life. “ I have four kids. Four VERY active kids. We have a trampoline and we’re always in the backyard playing. I see some friends and other dads who don’t have the energy or are drained after work. I don’t want to be the dad who can’t keep up with their kids. CrossFit doesn’t take energy away. It gives me the energy. Plus it’s a lot of fun.”
With four kids and a job in residential solar power that finds him managing a team of 30 sales reps, training, selling, meeting clients and doing installs, pretty much everything else takes the back burner. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, he joked. But still, he’s the guy who reads the blog every night and gets excited by what he sees. He as ZERO planned free time, but carries a gym bag in his car in case a meeting cancels or he wraps early. “If there’s a jump rope, wall balls, running or sit ups, I’m there!”
“This place is my escape. The people I work with I work with all the time and I love them all. They are family to me. But here it’s different. No one’s asking me any questions. I don’t have to think about anything.”
“I used to go to regular gyms and there was always a basketball court. I’d get better at basketball, but never had the motivation to get better at anything else. I never did Olympic lifts. A ball would always trump working on strength or mobility. But CrossFit is actually like a team sport and I love that.”
One of Keith’s basketball teammates recently said to us, “He’s unstoppable right now. He’s relentless and filled with energy. He just doesn’t stop. It’s unreal.” Keith says, “I can definitely hang with those younger guys. The only downside is that my shot isn’t on as much as it used to be. And if I’ve done a big leg workout at the Cove, I feel it that night. So I plan my rest days around it. But losing energy on the court isn’t an issue at all.”
So what can we learn from him? Especially on those days when you feel like there’s not a minute for yourself? “I take it day by day. I know I have work commitments I can’t miss, but I always have a change of clothes in case plans change. And I always look the day before so there’s even more motivation to come — like ‘that looks like fun’.”
The FUN he finds at the gym (and in life) is what makes Keith such an amazing and motivating force. “I love the people. I even like the loud music. All the 90’s rap. DMX. I love it all.”. Between his musical taste, his love of sport and his ability to live life fully, we should all try to grow up – or, rather, grow YOUNG – and be like Keith.
*increase weight each set
*after each set complete 12-15 DB Tricep extensions
-Sub DB Power Cleans
-Incline Push Ups
4 Snatch (power or squat)
30 Pull ups
4 Snatch (power or Squat)
20 Chest to bar Pull ups
400 M Run
4 Snatch (power or squat)
10 Bar Muscle ups
*17 min Time Cap
Fitness: 6 Power Snatch (95/65) (20 pull ups each round)
-Sub 15 cals on Assault bike
-Sub 8 DB snatch
-30 Light or unweighted Barbell Rows / 20 Ring Rows / 10 DB strict press
Coach’s Tip: Continuing our Pressing cycle with some Push Press and accessory pressing with Tricep extensions. Goal is to be able to increase weight each set of Push Press. The metcon has an aggressive time cap so pick a weight for the Snatches that you can do in quick singles with minimal rest.
Keith teaching Marina and Holden the scaled version of Chin Barbell Holds…
Today we celebrate one of our awesome night owls, Sandeep D.! If you don’t know him, it’s probably because you don’t take the 7:30p class, but he’s become a fan favorite FAST… and a coach’s favorite too!
Sandeep actually lives in New Jersey, but spends his weekdays in Columbia for work. He’s living proof that just because you live life on the road doesn’t mean you can’t live a healthy one.
He was born in India and moved to Mumbai when he was one. He played some sports in school – mainly soccer and table tennis. Sports in India wasn’t big at the time (other than cricket) so he kept busy doing recreational things to stay in shape.
He got married, had two kids (now 18 and 13) and came to the US when they were young. He initially thought it was a three-year plan, but the family has been here ever since. Not only is he away from home all week, he’s responsible for pressure-filled projects in construction including building tunnels, bridges and railways (think big stuff like LaGuardia rebuild and Washington Metro!).
Like most of us, he’s made himself the lowest priority for many years. Family, kids and work all took a front seat to his fitness (and being on the road all the time made it even harder), but since joining the Cove a few months ago, all of that has changed.
“I remember when my younger son was born I felt the responsibility of my older son should fall more on me so my wife could take care of the baby. I spent time knocking the ball around with him. He joined a soccer league. He’s so fraught with injuries including a meniscus tear – he basically has two knees in one. He’s got his one knee and a big bump on the side. He experienced ‘growing pains’ when he was 13 he was told to give up soccer and take on swimming to save his knees. He asked his doctor ‘how many days rest do I need?’. He said, ‘one month after each time the knee hurts.’ He said ‘okay, I can do that’. And so that’s what he does.”
“When I was young (before kids) it was all about me. When you have kids, your job is to keep telling them everything to do all the time. You tell them to keep going. You tell them ‘you got this’”. And his lessons clearly worked, but he soon realized he wasn’t practicing what he preached all those years.
“But then all of a sudden they’re grown. Now I have to tell myself everything I’ve told them for 18 years. I’ve been preaching this their whole lives, and now you’re back on the other side and you need to do what you’ve been telling them for yourself”
“I believe you need to lead by example. But my kids’ schedules were so crazy that I was only able to get in some running on the treadmill. With so little time you have to squeeze it in when you can. But honestly, the reason I started running was for him.”
And how he found CrossFit was also inspired by his kids. “My younger son goes on YouTube and finds crazy guys who do crazy things. He found The CrossFit Games on TV and we discovered Rich Froning. I’m a big Rich Froning fan.”
“I was really interested in what they were doing. Generally my go-to thing would be to run, but I knew I had to find a way to condition my muscles. I was getting weak. I was getting older. And I needed to my health as I also have diabetes.”
He knew he’d be in Columbia long term so picked up the phone and called the Cove. “I spoke to Brian and he said ‘ok, why don’t you just come’. When I came in he forgot for a moment it was me he spoke to and said ‘oh, you’re the Jersey guy’! After the first day at the Cove I said to Brian, ‘tomorrow I’m going to come back’. He’s said ‘next week when you finish foundations you can decide what you want to do.’ I said ‘it’s fine you want me to go through the basic classes, but I’m gonna sign up.”
“We hit it off just perfectly. He was my age and we clicked that first day. I didn’t think about the second or third day, I just knew I was coming in. I was excited but I had so much anxiety. The first day it hit me how out of shape I was when there were push-ups in a WOD and I couldn’t do a single one. I said to myself ‘I’m gonna fix it’. I used to be able to do 100. A few weeks later I could complete a set of five or six in each set. Every week I’ve hit a milestone. Week two I got some good squats done, week 3 I got my push-ups. And I’d say to Coach John or Josh, ‘See, I’m happy, I couldn’t do this before’”.
“I started three days a week and now am working up to four.” He comes in Monday night after work and leaves Thursday night after class to go home to New Jersey. And not only have his priorities shifted, his mindset has completely changed. “I started with ‘why can’t I do this?!’ Now it’s ‘I have to complete the workout; its just a matter of how’. And now I spend Thurs-Sunday back at home focused on eating smart, recovering and maximizing all the work I did during the week.”
Smartly, he made gradual change that he could stick to. “I started with the workouts and now have fixed the diet. I gave up starchy and processed carbs (rice, bread, etc). and eat tons of lentils, salads and fruits. And the byproduct of this change is that two weeks ago my doctor asked to do a blood test. My blood work, for the first time in two years, showed my diabetes was under control.”
“My family is so supportive. I’ll still go to my big family dinners, but they know I’m eating for my health now. My wife has been just amazing. She helps by packing my dinners for the week. She doesn’t want me to eat out and ruin all the work I’m putting in. So she takes care of me Monday –Thursday, even though she’s not with me.
Most of us would struggle with this unique lifestyle of being on the road all week, so look to Sandeep for inspiration. “This is how I live now. Rather than going to get a drink or eating out, I come to the gym. This helps me socialize too. If I’m home by myself I don’t know what to do with myself. I lived in a hotel for a long time and it can be lonely. Here there are awesome people that I can connect with. Anyone’s who sitting on the chairs I chat up and everyone is so great.”
Sandeep is now practicing what he’s preached all those years to his kids – and then some. If anyone is struggling with discipline with difficult schedules, seek him out. During the week, he’ll be up for anything. That is, as long as it involves a workout and healthy eating.
Huge congrats on all of your life changes Sandeep. To use your own words to your son, “you got this”.
Shoulder to Overhead Tester
Take 15 minutes to find a 1 RM in this complex:
2 Push Press + 1 Push Jerk
From Rack – 3/3/3/3/3 Push Press (no jerk – focus on stacking ribs over hips, avoid flaring of rib cage)
600/500 M Row
50 Double Unders
30 Push Press
600/500 M Row
50 Double Unders
30 Push Jerks
*18 min Time Cap
-Pay attention to coning during row, if coning during the pulll, keep chest upright, avoid leaning back
-50 Rope Waves
-From Rack – can opt for push press throughout entire WOD, if jerks don’t cause any leaking or excessive pressure or poor alignment, then jerks are Ok
Coach’s Tip: Our pressing test will be a complex and build off all the HSPU and PU work that we previously did. The complex will be dictated by the 2 rep Push Press, the jerk should not be the limiting factor. Timing wise the workout should be about 7-8 minutes for each segment. The load should not be unbroken, but done in big sets, 7-10 reps at a time.
Today we celebrate one of our most fierce morning warriors, Andrea C.! Not only is she one of the strongest and most determined athletes at the Cove, she’s also one of the sweetest. She’s that bright light that makes those tough mornings so much easier for so many and we are thrilled she’s allowed us to feature her as this week’s Wednesday Win!
It’s hard to believe when you see her move that she wasn’t a lifelong athlete. “I didn’t play any sports — I was the anxious kid who always watched everyone else play. I’m such a nerd. In the summer when everyone else went to sports camps I went to science camps. I tutored other kids. I literally sought out camps to do intellectual things.
My brother used to tease me and tell our friends that I was ‘just smart and pretty’”. Being an athlete is something she never saw in herself, even though others did. “In middle school the coach, who was also my PE teacher, asked me to try out for the track team. I said no and they persisted so instead I asked if I could be the manager. They said yes because I think they were trying to get me comfortable with the idea of being on the team, but I didn’t want people to looking at me. I didn’t want to be the center of attention.”
Ironically, now her job IS to be the center of attention. “I teach in front of classes that have anywhere up to 100 people. It took me to my adult years to get comfortable. I finally realized no was looking at me the way I thought they would.”
It also took her a long time to rethink her fitness and find the gym life she now loves. “Even though I never worked out, I was always pretty fit. I had two dogs – a Lab and a Bloodhound – and if I didn’t walk them all the time the house would be a mess! So I walked them a TON!”
It wasn’t until 2013 that she found her first gym. Let’s do the math: Today she turned 33 (Yes, today! Happy Birthday Andrea!) so it wasn’t until she was 28 that she stepped foot into a gym. “It was a boot-camp, but it’s where I fell in love with lifting weights. I was around all of these super strong women and I loved it. And then I got confident enough and started even lifting with the guys. I loved hanging out with the people I trained with. We’d come early just to hang out and catch up on life. I felt like I was a part of a team. It’s the TEAM that makes it easy”.
After we moved I found my way to CrossFit gym and loved it right away. I belonged to another box and have dropped into so many that I really knew what a box could be. And it helped me figure out what I really wanted from gym. I came to the Cove with Jeff for the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ and it was so much fun. One of the coaches said ‘you should come back and do the free week trial — and I was like I want to sign up NOW.”
That’s why this extraordinary woman drives 25 minutes to be at the Cove six days a week at 5am (yes, she’s always the first one there well before the 5:30 start). She even came in for the 5:30am class on her birthday when she had the day off.
“That’s the whole thing. I love working out with the am crew. The guys are great and I love working out with them but the women are so strong — physically and mentally. It’s so great to sit and talk to them and find out more about their background and what drives them.
I know I’m improving in part because who’s there. We all know each other’s weaknesses so people know where you need to go and want to help you get there. Natalie helped me push through to hit 305 on a deadlift last week and I never thought that would be possible. We all recognize where everyone is in their journey and it’s about trying to help each other find that breakthrough. I remember the day we did ‘Annie’ I heard Nassim let out a yelp mid-workout. I knew immediately she got those first 50 doubles unbroken and we were all so happy for her.
That sign above the door that says, ‘The best part of your day starts now’– it is SO true. There are times I come in for the competitor’s class on Saturday and think that Coach John has legitimately lost his mind. But afterwards I feel so good.”
Andrea is undoubtedly a seasoned athlete now, but what we are most amazed by is her ability to continually ‘break through’. She’s well past the ‘CrossFit Honeymoon’, where every day is a PR and benchmarks are shattered. She works hard for EVERY incremental win, every 5lb PR and better movement quality.
“I think it starts with consistency. I come six days a week. I try and come in early and try to play around with a few things because there is always going to be something to work on. Sometimes doubles happen, sometimes they don’t. I’m working on ring muscle ups now and stringing HSPU. It’s always evolving. There’s always something to master.”
And she is great making the time to do what she loves. “I love the Olympic lifts so I did the Barbell Club last time. It was so great. There were so few of us we could watch each other and learn from each other too. And John could dive deeper into the nuances. He would explain how things should ‘feel’ and really spend time on each position. You have to dedicate time outside class to do that, but you can really learn so so much!
The competitor’s class on Saturday mornings is awesome and comp training is just phenomenal too. There are days I wish I could just live in the gym, but I just can’t. But before class I can do my thing in just a little bit of time. I can spilt it up and do part of my accessory work before or after class. You really don’t have to be there too long to get the work done.
My nutrition is getting reeled in too. I try to be really conscious of what I put in my mouth. I do Territory meals for lunch and some salads with protein for dinner. Breakfast is usually a shake and eggs and turkey sausage. I just think about it more than I used to. I don’t love sweets so it really has to be REALLY good to tempt me. Like those pumpkin bars that Ms. O’Donnell used to bring in…. those were amazing!”
And she does all of this with an added challenge. “I was bit by a tick in March in 2017. It took a long time to diagnose, but I ended up having Lyme’s disease. And I now have rheumatoid arthritis as a result. At first I was just so tired, and there still days that crush me, but it could be so much worse. My doctor said ‘CrossFit has saved you’.
It really did. It saved me mentally and physically. Some days I’m just cognitively and physically slow. The Lyme is now being managed but I have rheumatoid arthritis as a result. They gym has been a place that where I love being; even if my body tenses up, I can let go of things. Even to be able to share this with Mattie, who’s also going through this — we check in on each other and that’s really cool.
And what about all that confidence she lacked when she was younger? “I come in just wanting to get through the workout but when I leave I have so much confidence. I used to be so concerned about people looking at me, but in the gym all of that goes away. Even if I’m the last one working out – it still builds my confidence because I know I challenged myself. You will never get better by not being last at some point. There’s always a way to push harder. You can up the weight on the bar or go for the doubles instead of singles.
I’m not saying it’s easy. But you can’t just stand in front of a bar and wish it would lift. You have to just keep at it. The accessory work matters. It all matters.”
And while her brother teased her for being ‘just smart and pretty’, well, now he’s eating his words. Now his Christmas gifts to her consist mainly of workout gear and fitness accessories. AND he’s yet to work out with her. We might argue he’s afraid he can’t keep up and she’ll start calling HIM ‘just smart and pretty’. Call her whatever name you want, but the list of amazing attributes is LONG. We’re so proud of what she’s accomplished and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
5 Sumo Speed Deadlifts (fast on the way up, reset and control to the bottom)
5 High Box Jumps
100 Double Unders
20/15 Cal Bike
15 Hanging Power Cleans
12 min Cap
Fitness: 115/75 (200 Singles)
Coach’s Tip: Last day to work on our deadlifts before we restest! We deload and work a little speed to prep for the big day next week. The speed focus should only be on the accent. The Met con is heavy and spicy. 100 Dubs should be 1-2 minutes the bike should be 1-2 minutes and the cleans should be heavy in singles or sets of 3. No rest going back into the second round so that might be a little slower but the goal is to hit the rounds in about 6 minutes. We went long yesterday. Today is about going faster!
Andrea’s overcome her anxiety about people watching her and it’s a really good thing. Because we are ALL watching. In awe!